Letters to the editor: ‘Consult? More insult’

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Surprise, surprise! Sainsbury’s has announced that following the latest period of consultation, the majority of respondents were in favour of having a new Sainsbury’s superstore in Thame.

James Hampton

Address supplied

SURPRISE, surprise! Sainsbury’s has announced that following the latest period of consultation, the majority of respondents were in favour of having a new Sainsbury’s superstore in Thame.

Having carried out the consultation themselves, what did they expect?

Consultations carried out by those who have an axe to grind are worthless and should be despatched to the nearest waste paper basket.

From reading the letters to The Gazette – a much better guide to public opinion – it is clear that the great majority of the people who live in Thame are very much against it. And no wonder.

Not a single argument has been put forward to demonstrate that the store is actually needed, that is, that it will fulfil a requirement.

All the arguments in favour have cited the ‘spin-off’ – a new cattle market, a new community centre, it will bring visitors to Thame, it will create jobs and so on.

It would be unfortunate if the future development of Thame was based on such considerations as these.

The cattle market is a commercial concern and should be left to make its decisions on commercial grounds.

With regard to a community centre, what exactly will it be used for that cannot be catered for by existing facilities such as the Town Hall and The Barns Centre, not to mention the many hotels in Thame and the surrounding district.

With regard to job creation, experts in the field tell us that the creation of yet another superstore in such a small town as Thame will cause smaller shops to close, thus, there will also be a loss of jobs.

Even if there is a net gain of jobs, who will they go to? Will they be reserved for Thame residents?

Of course not.

They will go to whoever Sainsbury’s think is best suited to their requirements regardless of where they come from.

Turning now to the increase in parking problems that is bound to occur with the establishment of a new superstore.

Already, roads near to the Waitrose store have been turned into single lane carriageways; many of the cars parked there belong to people who work in Thame but who do not live here and use the local roads as free car parks.

Word is that Waitrose employees are not permitted to use the company car park.

If this is so, will Sainsbury’s have a similar rule?

It is essential that before planning permission is given for any new Sainsbury’s, store the council as the responsible highway authority, should do an in-depth study into the effects on local roads of long stay parking and, if need be, introduce controls over it.

Finally, Thame is a pleasant place in which to live.

Do we really want to turn it into a retail park because that is what it will become if yet another large store is allowed to open up?

> Letters continued on next page (17), right.

Dispel Sainsbury’s myth

Rob Wheal, Thame

HAVING read several letters in the Gazette recently bemoaning the fact that people cannot afford to shop in Waitrose, and using this as a justification for the Sainsbury’s proposal, I consulted a supermarket comparison website to check out some of my frequent buys, and was interested to discover that in almost all cases, Waitrose prices either matched or were better than those of Sainsbury’s.

Those correspondents who suggest that it is expensive and that nobody uses Waitrose clearly haven’t taken the time to have a look around this thriving store lately; the one with the consistently full car park.

Sainsbury’s consultants, and those residents in favour of the development, make much of the alleged statistic that a large number of Thame residents leave the town to shop. However, even if that were true, I doubt very much that they are seeking out their nearest Sainsbury’s. Far more likely that they are making the trip to Asda in Wheatley, where prices are consistently cheaper than Waitrose – and Sainsbury’s and Tesco for that matter. Were the Sainsbury’s ever to be built, these people would still leave the town to shop in Asda.

I also find it deeply cynical that Sainsbury’s wave the threat of an out of town supermarket at us, as an incentive to accept their cattle market proposal as a better alternative, and at least one of your correspondents has been taken in by this.

There is no likelihood of this happening. Tesco tried it years ago when they bought the Daf site, and planning permission was denied on a number of occasions. Edge of town supermarkets have been against government policy for a number of years, and are unlikely ever to become acceptable because they kill town centres.

Thame is a unique market town, and we are privileged to enjoy the services of a large number of independent retailers; all of whom deserve our loyalty and support.

I don’t believe that Sainsbury’s has the town’s interests at heart; only their own, and the cattle market site is way too important to give up to yet another supermarket.